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With the help of a veterinarian from the Toronto Zoo, Toronto Police officers hold a female deer that ventured into downtown. The animal was shot with a tranquilizer, then tasered as it tried to flee near Dundas and University. (Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail/Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)
With the help of a veterinarian from the Toronto Zoo, Toronto Police officers hold a female deer that ventured into downtown. The animal was shot with a tranquilizer, then tasered as it tried to flee near Dundas and University. (Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail/Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail)

Deer drugged, tasered after downtown Toronto stroll Add to ...

Police and animal control officers used a tranquilizer, taser and a net to capture a deer that strayed into downtown Toronto early Tuesday.

The animal was first spotted near Union Station, before it wandered through city streets. Police finally cornered the deer against the side of an office building near Dundas Street West and University Avenue, just north of city hall.

"He's a wild animal. Fairly big, fairly large," said Toronto Police Sergeant Winston Bennett. "If it runs and hits a pedestrian, that's something we need to think about."

For more than three hours, police and onlookers stood in the cold wind to watch the animal, which appeared to be resting calmly among the bushes beside the office tower. Officers blocked-off a section of Chestnut St. and evacuated the main floor of the building at 123 Edward St.

As police kept people with cellphone cameras from getting too close, animal control officers milled about and members of the Toronto Police Service's Emergency Task Force arrived to assist.

One welder at a construction site across the street from the building, who didn't want to be named, said the scene was startling at first.

"With the police there and the [ETF] I thought it was a bomb threat," he said. "You think it's pretty big. But then you hear 'it's a deer, it's a deer.'"

Around 11:30 a.m. ET, officers from the task force held up nets near where the deer had settled. With help from a veterinarian from the Toronto Zoo, it was shot with a tranquilizer gun. After being hit by the dart, the animal rose up and rushed into the street, approaching some of the officers.

That's when an ETF officer tasered the animal, bringing it to the ground. Police and animal control officers surrounded the deer and trapped it in one of the nets. The deer, which wasn't moving, was then placed in the back of a van.

Police superintendent Hugh Ferguson says the deer is still alive and is being handed over to animal control. A vet was in the van to monitor the creature while it was being transported.

Eletta Purdy, manager of Toronto Animal Services, said most deer incursions in the city occur close to green spaces and are usually resolved by leaving the animal alone to find its way back to the natural habitat or by gently coaxing it along, she said. Those options didn't exist in this case because the animal had found its way to the heart of the city, she said.

"We have the good fortune to live in a city with lots of green space and wildlife highways running up and down through the city along river beds," she said.

"The unfortunate thing that sometimes happens, though, is the wild animals find themselves in a predicament where they're in conflict with people and the environment we've built around them."

It's not the first deer sighting in downtown Toronto this week. Late Saturday night, Tomash Devenishek, 24, was heading to the bars with friends in two cars when they spotted a deer near the railway tracks at Strachan Avenue, just north of Ordnance Street, within sight of Fort York.

"We passed it and I looked in my rearview mirror," he recalled. "So I freaked out, I pulled over in the middle of the street."

Mr. Devenishek said he followed the animal on foot while trying desperately to reach someone by cell phone. He said he called 911, which referred him to the city's information line 311, which referred him to the city's animal services department, which was closed and had a message directing callers to an after-hours service. "They kept passing me around."

After 10 minutes, the deer ambled away and Mr. Devenishek gave up the chase. He said a friend whose father is a deer hunter identified the animal as a young female. They believe it came from the west end of the city.

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